Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Tomb of Cecilia Metella on the Via Appia Antica, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 48 a

Catalogue entry

Turner made a number of sketches of the Via Appia Antica, the ancient Roman thoroughfare from Rome to Brindisi in south-east Italy. Known as ‘the Queen of Roads’, the Appian Way was famous for its characteristic straightness and the numerous tombs and catacombs lining the route. This page contains an inverted sketch of the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, a large circular mausoleum and one of Rome’s most celebrated ancient monuments. Turner made numerous studies of the tomb and his viewpoint here records the structure as seen from the north, possibly from the Circus of Maxentius. For a discussion and other sketches see folio 47 (D15384).
Technical notes:
This page and folio 49 recto opposite (D15388) have both previously been assigned the Turner Bequest number CLXXXII 48a. The present page is listed in Finberg’s Inventory as ‘48a’, the ‘a’ suffix being his usual means of indicating the verso of a leaf, although, in common with other versos, the page is not physically stamped as such. D15388 is a narrow, torn remnant, inscribed in pencil ‘48A’ (that particular ‘A’ indicating an addendum rather than a verso), made up at some point with modern paper to match adjacent pages and confusingly stamped ‘CLXXXII 48a’. Finberg had omitted to mention the mutilated leaf, and was possibly not aware of it, as the sketchbook was previously broken up and he does not clearly describe its physical state at the time he catalogued it.

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

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